VA Loan Assistance For Emergencies and Natural Disasters
With Hurricane Issac in recent headlines, plus wildfire news, floods, storms and other natural disasters, it’s a good time to review options and resources for VA borrowers with homes in these affected areas.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency can help home owners begin the disaster recovery process. From the VA official site:
“Begin the disaster application process online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800‐621‐3362. In order to receive the maximum assistance, you must register with FEMA before their deadline expires. Do not pay your loan in full before checking with the Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding a loan for the uninsured portion of your loss. Additional support, including low‐interest loans, cash grants, and housing assistance may be available from agencies associated with the disaster recovery effort. For more information, go to www.fema.gov.”
Your mortgage company must be notified when you are recovering from a natural disaster. VA borrowers must know they are still required to pay on a VA mortgage even when the home is damaged or uninhabitable. From VA.gov:
“If you are unable to make payments on time, we encourage you to discuss forbearance or a loan modification. Also have your lender explain procedures for insurance loss checks, repairs to your property, payments to contractors, etc.” Borrowers should also beware of scams that could be preying upon those recovering from disaster–never pay your VA mortgage to anyone but the same payee you’ve always made your VA mortgage payment too unless you have spoken directly with your lender for other arrangements. Do not trust a third party to make these arrangements on your behalf.
The VA has some special advice for when it’s time to contact your insurance company regarding the damage to your home. “File an insurance claim as soon as possible; however, do not make a hasty settlement on insurance. When the property is damaged but repairable, attempt to get your local engineer’s office to inspect your home for structural damage. If possible, get at least two estimates from licensed contractors for cost of repairs or rebuilding. ‐‐ Insurance checks for personal property and living expenses should be payable to you only. Checks for damage to your home should be payable to both you and your mortgage company.”
Finally, do not forget to file change of address paperwork if appropriate. Are you getting monthly benefit checks but cannot receive mail at your home address due to storm damage? Notify your local post office and VA Regional Office (benefits.va.gov/homeloans/rlcweb.asp) of your change of address. For information on other VA benefits, call 800‐827‐1000.
Do you have questions about VA mortgage loans? Ask us in the comments section.
About Bruce Reichstein
Bruce Reichstein is an Expert on (VA) Military/Veteran Home Loan Guidelines for over 26 years — www.VALoans.com. He is an experienced VA Loan Mortgage Banker who is passionate about assisting US Military Veterans utilize their Veteran Eligibility to purchase a home.